Don’t Cry For Me, Norah Borges

I’m going to get this out of the way.  Leonor Fanny Borges Acevedo, or Norah for short, had a famous brother who wrote a bunch of stuff.  I could talk about him, but I’m not going to.  Women artists deserve to stand on their own, without having a brother or husband or father to give them legitimacy and attention.  All I want to talk about is Norah Borges and her art.


Norah Borges was born in 1901 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  She was outgoing, adventurous, and daring.  She moved to Switzerland as a child so her father could receive specialized medical treatment there.  Then World War I started and the family was stuck in Europe.  While the Borges clan twiddled their thumbs, Norah attended the Ecole Des Beaux-Artes in Geneva.  In 1915, Borges wrote and illustrated her first book of poetry, ‘Notas Lejanas.’  She studied with Maurice Sarkisoff and Arnaldo Bossi, among many others.  Borges then traveled to Spain and began to do work for magazines involved in the Ultraism movement and illustrated books of poetry.  In 1921, Borges returned to Buenos Aires.  A surrealist magazine, ‘Manometre,’ published pictures of her paintings in 1923.  Her work was again published one year later in the Argentinean literature magazine, ‘Martin Fierro.’  In 1926, Borges showed over 75 paintings, drawings, wood carvings, and other works in the Asociacion Amigos del Arte exhibition.  She got married in 1928 to Guillermo del Torre, an author and artist also involved in Ultraism.  During World War II, Borges actively and loudly supported la Junta de la Victoria, an anti-fascist feminist group.  She spoke out against president Juan Domingo Peron and went to jail.  After being released, Borges went right back to illustrating books and making art.  She also served as art critic for the Anales de Buenos Aires under a male pseudonym, because, you know, a woman couldn’t possibly know anything about art.  Sigh.  Norah Borges died in 1998.  Over the course of her life, she illustrated almost 80 books, had illustrations in several Avant Garde magazines, and was an artistic pioneer in the Avant Garde and Ultraism movements.


Borges, despite being prolific and active for decades, did not exhibit often and preferred to give her works away instead of selling them.  Perhaps this contributes to the rarity of seeing her art in museums and her obscurity as an artist.  But, her work is beautiful and deserves notice and appreciation.  Ultraism railed against modernism and sentimentalism, and rejected ornamental aspects and lack of substance.  Borges embraced these ideas and added many of her own.  Her style also incorporated expressionism, cubism, and futurism.  When at the Ecole des Beaux-Artes, Sarkisoff told Borges to reject the rules of art school and to forge her own style and artistic path.  She certainly did that.  Borges was an artistic trailblazer, a kickass artist, a proud feminist and activist, and managed to put up with decades of whiny poets and their poetry.  You’re a better woman than I, Norah Borges.

Borges Woodcut

Visual Activism 101

A constitution is written.  Laws are enacted.  Amendments are passed.  Equal rights and equal treatment are guaranteed and bigotry and violence fade away into the distant past.  Bunnies knit rainbows out of butterfly wings and free pizza and puppies show up at everyone’s doorsteps.  Or not.  South Africa’s Constitution (adopted in 1996) prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.  In 2006, the government legalized same-sex marriage.  And each year members of South Africa’s LGBTQIA+ community experience discrimination, hate crimes, and violence, including over 500 (reported, more go unreported) “corrective rapes” perpetrated on lesbians each year.  Despite the progress, true equality and safety remain out of reach.

Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, South Africa in 1972.  She grew up under apartheid.  In 1991, she came out as a lesbian.  She helped found the Forem for the Empowerment of Women in 2002, a lesbian organization and a space for women to meet and organize.  Muholi began studying photography in 2003.  One year later, she had her first solo show at the Johannesburg Art Gallery.  In 2005 she received the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts.  In 2009, Muholi graduated from Ryerson University with a MFA in Documentary Media.  That same year, she founded another organization, Inkanyiso, which facilitates LGBTQIA+ activism through the visual arts and the media.  Their mission statement is “Produce.  Educate.  Disseminate.”  Muholi has won several awards and fellowships from around the world.  She has had solo exhibits in Nigeria, Austria, Milan, London, Amsterdam, Montreal, and New York City.   Her work has been shown in group exhibitions across the globe, from Toronto to Singapore to Brazil to Mali.  In 2014, Muholi presented at the prestigious Design Indaba Conference.


But it hasn’t been all accolades and appreciation for Muholi.  In 2009, South Africa’s Minister of Arts and Culture, Lulu Xingwana, left an exhibition that included Muholi’s photographs of lesbians saying it was offensive and immoral.  Three years later, Muholi’s apartment was broken into and over 20 hard drives were taken.  They contained years of her work.  Nothing else of value was taken, suggesting the theft was specifically motivated by her work and activism.  Real mature, people; that’ll stop her. *eye roll*


So, what is so offensive about Zanele Muholi?  She is black; she is a lesbian; she is an artist; she is an activist.   Each one of those things would be cause for conservative undies to get in a bunch, but put it all together and you have a layer cake of controversy.  Her work, mostly photography and some video, focuses on the struggles of being black and LGBTQIA+ in South Africa.  Muholi stated, “You can’t change the laws without changing the images.  It is one thing to say we exist; it is another to show it.  Art is political, art is about activism.”  To instigate change, challenge prejudice, and raise awareness, Muholi creates series of photographs of people and daily life events in the black LGBTQIA+ community.  “Faces and Phases” is a series of more than 200 photographs of South African black lesbians.  They are striking, beautiful black and white portraits.  Muholi documents all aspects of LGBTQIA+ life: weddings, intimacy, funerals, hate crimes.  It is intense work.  “I have listened to so many people’s pain,” Muholi said, “and it meant I had to sleep with that pain…”  But by showing images of the community, by documenting its daily experiences, the LGBTQIA+ community is being seen.  It normalizes what is often seen as “other,” and challenges prejudices of gender, sexuality, and race.  Muholi, continues to challenge herself artistically.  She also, only recently, began to turn the camera on herself.  She found self-portraits to be intense and confrontational: “…you want to tell the truth, but at the same time you have reservations for confronting the self, dealing with you.”  In these portraits she often darkens her skin tone, emphasizing her blackness and its beauty.


Muholi continues to create and to fight for the black LGTBQIA+ community, and the LGBTQIA+ community on the whole.  And picture by picture, she is making a difference.  Zanele Muholi: visual activist and badass extraordinaire.

Carmen Get It

101 years old.  Each morning you go into your studio to make art, same as you’ve done for the last seventy-something years.  Every now and then, you take a break and have a scotch.  Then you get back to your painting.  Your mobility has decreased, you are in a wheel chair, and have assistants that can help you when you need it.  You are successful and your work is internationally recognized.  When I am 101 years old, if I get there, I imagine I will just lie in bed and moan and drink tea with my dogs.   But Carmen Herrera, Cuban centenarian and brilliant abstract artist, just keeps on creating.


Herrera was born in Cuba in 1915.  Her father was the editor of the El Mundo newspaper.  Her mother worked there as a reporter.  In the early 1930s, Herrera traveled to Paris.  She returned to Cuba in 1935 and started studying architecture.  In 1939, she met and married Jesse Loewenthal, a teacher, and they moved to New York City.  In New York, Herrera began studying art at the Art Students League.  She returned to Paris 1947.  While in Paris she began to simplify her style and focus on spatial relationships in her paintings.  Herrera said of this period, “I began a lifelong process of purification, a process of taking away what isn’t essential.”  She exhibited her work at the Salon des Realites Nouvelles.  Herrera returned to New York in 1954 and has remained there ever since.  Over the next two decades, she showed her work at the Galeria Sudamericana, the Trabia Gallery, and the Cisneros Gallery.  Herrera received a Fellowship from the Cintas Foundation in 1966 that ran through 1968, and a Creative Artists Public Service Grant in 1977.  In 1986, she exhibited at the Alternative Gallery.  She continued to remain pretty unknown, but kept getting up every day and painting.  She explained that “I do it because I have to do it; it’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure.”  It wasn’t until 2004, at the ripe old age of 89, that Herrera sold her first painting.  So much yay!  Since then, she has enjoyed growing recognition and success.  In 2009, there was a small retrospective of her work in the IKON Gallery in England that also traveled to the Pfalzgalerie Museum in Germany.  A large retrospective is planned for the fall of this year (2016) at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  Herrera’s art is in the collections at the Tate Modern, MoMA in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Hirshhorn in Washington D.C., the Whitney Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  A documentary, directed by Alison Klayman, was made about her life, The 100 Years Picture.  It may have taken 90 years, but the world is finally paying attention to this kickass painter.


Herrera’s art is abstract, geometric, and colorful.  She begins a painting by doing a pencil sketch on graph paper.  Then she makes a small color sketch on velum with paint markers, and sometimes does a larger color sketch on paper as well.  After that, she paints.  To get sharp clear lines and saturated colors, Herrera uses tape and rolls the paint on with a roller in several coats.  Once it is complete, it is hung on the wall and she thinks about it.  Sometimes she keeps it, sometimes she scraps it and starts over.  Herrera’s love of painting began almost a century ago, her success followed decades later.  Her paintings combine her intellect and her heart in minimal compositions with vivid colors.  And they keep on coming.  We should all be so lucky to find a passion that carries us through the centuries.  Carmen Herrera, you are a fucking inspiration.  Keep creating!


Yassss, Queenie

Australia.  It’s known for the beautiful, harsh Outback, the stunning coral reefs, and about a million things than can kill you.  Seriously, there are easily a million bastard death beasts there.  Eastern brown snakes, saltwater crocodiles, funnel web spiders, taipan snakes, common death adders, tiger snakes, redback spiders, box jellyfish, blue ring octopus, more snakes.  Even the ants can kill you.  Basically, unless it’s a koala with candy and a “pet me” sign, don’t touch anything.  Out of this rugged, potentially lethal landscape, though, comes some great art.


Meet Queenie McKenzie (also known by Oakes, Mingmarriya, Nakarra, and Garagarag).  She was born sometime between 1910 and 1930 in East Kimberley at Old Texas Station.  Her mother, Old Dinah, was an Aboriginal; her father was a white horse breaker who was not present in her life.  At the time in Australia, there was a super fucked-up policy of assimilation which authorized the government to take mixed race children from their parents and raise them in orphanages.  So wrong on so many levels.  McKenzie’s mother managed to avoid losing Queenie, blackening her skin with charcoal to make her appear darker.  McKenzie spent her childhood cooking, tending to the horses, and driving cattle.  She met Rover Thomas when he found employment on the ranch and they were life-long friends.  She married a man named Charlie McKenzie and adopted a son.  She had lots grandkids and many dogs.  Yay, dogs!  McKenzie did lots of work for the community in Western Australia.  She helped out at health clinics, did outreach for alcoholism, and taught the Kija language and culture in schools.  She was also very active in ‘women’s law business.’  McKenzie did not start making art until the early 1980s.  She mixed her own pigments out of natural ingredients and bush gum.  Her work told stories of her life, the history of the area, and the Dreamtime.  She mostly painted landscapes, some with some figurative elements, that combined spiritual and quotidian themes.  At first McKenzie signed her paintings with a fingerprint.  Later, she learned how to write her name.  By the 1990s, McKenzie was commercially successful and had exhibitions and workshops.  In 1998, she and seven other artists created prints for the Sydney Olympics and she was declared a “State Living Treasure.”  She died that year, 1998.  Her works are in the Holmes a Court Collection and sells at auction for $8,000-15,000.


McKenzie lived her whole life in Western Australia, first at Old Texas Station and then at Warmun (Turkey Creek), with little to no contact with Western, white culture.  Her art was deeply connected to place, the land and the people McKenzie spent her life getting to know.  She said in an interview “Every rock, every hill, every water, I know that place backwards and forwards, up and down, inside out.  It’s my country and I got names for every place.”  Her paintings show landscapes filled with the rocks and hills and rivers she knew.  Occasionally, there are native animals, like kangaroos and mook mook owls.  Others feature small figures in the landscapes and tell stories of her life and the history of the Aboriginal people in East Kimberley.  The paintings are all filled with colors straight from the earth and stories straight from the people.


Queenie McKenzie lived up to her name.  She was in love with her land and its people; she was generous and culturally proud.  She skillfully blended ancient traditions with modern life and created moving, beautiful works.  McKenzie was a super cool woman and amazing artists and she remind us to never give up our urge to create.  Fuck yeah, Queenie.  You rock.

Guda for You!

In the beginning there were men and in the middle there were men and now there are men, and maybe a few random women.  Cave men scratched buffalo pictures onto cave walls.  Greek and Roman dudes chiseled gods out of marble.  Monks inscribed bibles while knights waged Crusades.  Men in floofy knickers painted for their aristocratic and church patrons in the Renaissance.  More men in more silly pants painted portraits of enlightened rich folks.  Men drinking absinthe made their impressions and played with cubes.  Men got abstract and then post-modern.  Oh, yeah, and there was a lady named Mary Cassatt and one down in Mexico named Frida Kahlo, but, ooh, look at what Jeff Koons is doing!  This is the story of art history, as it is usually taught.  And, yes, men did all those things.  But, so did women!  Women from all over the world!  Women in caves!  Women in convents!  Women painting and sculpting and making beautiful shit for millennia.  That’s what this blog is about and that’s why I’m so excited to share these awesome artists with you.

Most women in the Middle Ages in Europe had two choices: get married or go to a convent.  It was a piss poor pair of options, but that’s how it was.  If the woman chose to become a nun, she had a chance to do something lay women could not.  She could get the chance to make art.

Medieval art was religious art.   It was the art of illuminated manuscripts.  Hymnals, Psalters, Bibles, et cetera were all created by hand and beautifully decorated.  Along with the carefully inscribed text, the illuminators would create large decorative letters that began sections, images depicting scenes from the text, intricate borders, and tiny pictures in the margins (known as marginalia) that were often kind of dirty and weird.  When imagining someone illuminating a manuscript, it is usually a robe-clad, tonsured monk hunched over a sheet of velum carefully drawing by candle light.  It’s what I pictured until I learned about Guda.  Guda, and other nuns, illuminated manuscripts and they did a bitchin’ job at it too.


Guda (also known as Guta) lived in 12th century Germany at the Weissfauen Convent.  This was her taken name, as women received a new name upon entering the convent.  Because of this, very little is recorded about these artists before they became nuns.  All that’s really known about Guda is that she lived in the 1100s in Germany and worked to create the Homiliary of St. Bartholomew manuscript.  She drew a decorative letter “D” that contained her self-portrait.  A little scroll in the letter proclaims in Latin, “Guda, a sinner, wrote and painted this book.”  This inscription along with her picture makes this one of the first signed self-portraits done by a woman in all of Western civilization (that we know of).  And that makes Guda, Medieval wonder-nun/artist, pretty fucking cool.


Meta Physical

The Victorian Era.  Women were bound by corsets, morality, and domesticity, stuck at home caring for their children and attending to their husbands’ needs.  Or not.  Yes, the Victorian period was stifling and oppressive for women, but there were some groundbreaking women who didn’t let it get them down.  Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was one of those awesome ladies.


Fuller was born in 1877 and was already creating sculpture and drawings in high school.  One of her works was chosen to be in the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.  She won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Arts (now the Philadelphia College of Art).  Fuller graduated and traveled to Paris in 1899 to continue her studies.  In Paris, she attended the Academie Colarossi and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  She met and became friends with W.E.B. DuBois.  Fuller also met Rodin and he told her, “my child, you are a sculptor; you have the sense of form in your fingers.”  While in Paris, she exhibited at Samuel Bing’s L’Art Nouveau Gallery and at the Paris Salon.  After kicking ass in Paris, Fuller returned to Philadelphia in 1903.  She continued her artistic studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  Fuller worked in plaster and clay; most of the sculptures were also bronzed.  In 1909, Fuller met Dr. Solomon Fuller, one of the first African American psychiatrists in the United State, and they were married.  They moved to Massachusetts and Fuller built herself a studio with her own hands against her husband’s wishes.  Hell yes.  She had three sons and continued sculpting as well as doing housework and raising the kids.  So, yeah, awesome.

In 1917, she became the first African American woman to receive a United States government commission.  Fuller created 14 works for the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition.  Lest anyone forget what the country was built on, the tableaux showed scenes of slaves arriving in America and the home life of black Americans in 1617.  Fuller exhibited her work at the New York Public Library, the Boston Public Library, the Harmon Foundation Shows, and at the Making of America Exposition during the 1920s.  Apparently, Americans could not get enough of Expositions back in the day.  In 1957, Fuller was commissioned by the Afro-American Women’s Council to create 10 sculptures of famous African American women.  Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller died in 1968.  Her first retrospective was in 1984 at the Danforth Museum of Art.  Her work is in the collections of the Schomburg Center, Radcliffe College, the Museum of Afro-American History in Boston, as well as at the Danforth Museum of Art.  Why her work is not more widely known or in more museums’ collection is probably due to her being a woman and an African American and it’s a fucking shame.


Fuller was incredibly spiritual and very aware of the plight of African Americans in the United States during her lifetime and throughout American history.  These issues permeate her work.  In 1914, she created Ethiopia Awakening.  This sculpture shows a woman whose legs are wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy but whose torso and head are emerging from the bindings.  It is a figure of a woman coming out of confinement and into her own personhood.  It creates a visual link to Africa, the continuing heritage of African Americans, and references the ideas of Ethiopianism.  In 1919, Fuller created a visual tribute to Mary Turner, who was lynched with three others who were suspected of planning to murder a white person.  Fuller was an artistic pioneer.  She utilized African American subjects, an aesthetic that blended African American and African styles, and addressing the racial disparities and oppression African Americans faced; and all before the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance and the birth of the idea of the New Negro.  She used the link between black Africa and black America to show a rich, complex artistic and cultural heritage and to decry colonialism and racism.


In 1937, Fuller made “Talking Skull” showing a man on his knees with a skull on the ground in front of him.  It is a clear depiction of the link between the past and the present, and the presence of death (or the threat of death) in African American lives.  Her work has often been called “dark” or “macabre,” and maybe it is, but it is also inspiring, proud, and complex.  Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was an amazing artist, a kick-ass woman, and someone who helped shape one of the most important American art movements in the 20th century.  Fuller is full-on awesome.

The Art of Trauma

Let’s talk transgender turkey for a minute.  Transgender women are women.  If you disagree and/or your feminism doesn’t include them, you kind of suck.  That said…

“Jewish gay transgender woman artist” is not a phrase you hear much, or at all, in the art world.  But, lucky for us, there is an awesome woman named Yishay Garbasz making art and busting through cis-hetero-patriarchal walls.  Now that I’ve rolled out a long string of labels, I’d like to roll them back.  Garbasz said in an interview in 2013, “I’m an artist.  I’m not a trans-artist, I’m not a Jewish artist, just an artist.  And I think that’s important; a lot of people struggle with gender as something that shapes their life…There’s a lot more to life than that.  Society constrains a lot of people into very specific things, and if there wasn’t a social ostracism they would have much bigger lives.”  And she’s right.  So, let’s just talk about a bitchin’ contemporary artist and her work.


Yishay Garbasz was born in 1970 in Israel; her parents were survivors of World War II and the Holocaust.  She studied photography at Bard College in the early 2000s, though she also does installation art and performance pieces.  She won the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 2004.  In 2008, Garbasz moved to Berlin and has been based there ever since.  She won Berlin Woman Filmmaker of the Year in 2010.  Garbasz is interested in trauma.  The memories of trauma, the sites of trauma, the passing along of trauma from person to person and place to person, the post-trauma experience.  Her work also addresses identity and her life as a woman.

One of her earlier undertakings was begun in 2004 (ending in 2009) and involved Garbasz retracing her mother’s steps through the Holocaust and photographing it.  She went everywhere her mother was from 1942 through 1945: the Jewish ghetto her mother lived in as a girl, the concentrations camps, along the route of the death march her mother was forced to go on.  All while lugging a large-format single-negative camera on a tripod.  When speaking of “In My Mother’s Footsteps,” Garbasz said “my mother lost parts of her soul in those places and I had to go back and collect them.”  Garbasz also did a piece that centered on her branding her mother’s concentration camp number into her arm and photographed it as the wound healed.


Documenting sites of trauma continued in her next project in which she traveled a variety of places including the DMZ between North and South Korea, the barriers running between Israel and Palestine, and the Peace Lines in Northern Ireland.  She also traveled to and photographed Fukushima, Japan post-nuclear disaster.  I think we can agree that if you want a guide for a sweet trauma-based vacation, Garbasz is your girl.

In 2008, Garbasz began “Becoming.”  She documented her transition through the gender-affirmation process by taking a nude picture of herself every week.  The 28 pictures were then made into a life-size zoetrope and a flip book.  After transitioning, Garbasz took her old testicles and exhibited them in a tank of formaldehyde.  The piece was titled, “Eat Me Damien.” Indeed.  You can take your stupid preserved shark, Damien Hirst, and suck it.


Yishay Garbasz continues to travel and take photographs and exhibit around the world.  If you get the chance to see her work, jump on that shit.

To Infinity and Beyond!

Polka-dots.  Cheerful, bright, rhythmic polka-dots.  You run into them on clothes and home decor, kitchen ware and pet accessories.  And thanks to kickass contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama, they are finally in art museums and galleries around the world.  Who is this wonderful polka-dot warrior?  Let’s find out…yayoiportrait

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan in 1929.  She began studying Nihonga painting in Kyoto, Japan in 1948 but found the strict master-student method of learning to be odious.  In 1957, Kusama moved to Seattle and then to New York City.  She struggled for a time financially, but blossomed artistically.  Kusama worked quickly and was very prolific.  She had her first solo show in 1959 at the Breta Gallery.  While in New York, she found friendship with Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Joseph Cornell, and other artists.  After almost two decades, in 1973, Kusama returned to Japan.  She checked herself into the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill in 1977 after a life-long struggle with hallucinations, obsessive thoughts, and suicidal urges.  She has lived there ever since and has a nearby studio where she continues to create art, mostly large, brightly painted canvases.  Kusama also writes and has published works of poetry, novels, and autobiographical material.  In 2006, Kusama received the prestigious Praemium Imperiale Award and the Women’s Caucus for Art’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Her art is in the permanent collections at MoMA in New York, LACMA, the Walker Art Center, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Tate Modern, the Centre Pompidou, and the National Museum of Tokyo.  In 2014, one of her pieces, “White no. 28,” sold for $7.1 million at auction, the highest ever paid for a living female artist.  Yay, Yayoi!

So, that’s who, where, and when, but what about the art?  What about the polka-dots?  The polka-dots have always been with her.  In a childhood drawing of a woman, polka-dots cover over the page.  From around the time she was 10 on, Kusama began repeatedly using polka-dots in her drawings and paintings.  In the 1950s, Kusama created massive works she called “Infinity Nets.”  She took long canvases, 30 feet long and over, and covered them in dots and net-like patterns.  In the 1960s, she began doing installations and sculptures.  She lined rooms with mirrors and colored balls and lights and created the feeling of a space that continued forever.  She painted polka dots on object and people and took photos of the works.  Kusama began making films.  She also started staging happenings, doing performance pieces, and facilitating anti-war protests in the 1960s that involved her painting her own and other naked bodies with polka-dots.  These performances had awesome names like “Grand Orgy to Awaken the Dead at MoMA.”   Fuck yes.

In 1966, Kusama participated in the Venice Biennale.  Her piece, “Narcissus Garden,” involved hundreds of orbs mirrored on the outside and her standing in a gold kimono.  She sold the mirrored balls for a few dollars each to visitors until the Biennale shut her down.  I guess a critique of the art market wasn’t so popular in the middle of an art owner/art dealer masturbation-fest.  Go figure.

yayoiroomShe continued making sculpture, paintings, and installations.  She returned to the Venice Biennale in 1993 with a room lined with mirrors and filled with polka-dotted pumpkin sculptures.  In the 2000s, Kusama created furnished rooms covered in brightly colored polka-dots illuminated by UV lights; she called these “I’m Here, but Nothing.”  Her solo show “KUSAMATRIX” in 2004 in Tokyo drew in over half a million people.  That’s almost the same as the population of Tucson, Arizona.  She has had several Retrospectives: MoMA in 1998, the Whitney Museum in 2012, and the Tate Modern in 2012.  She has also created many public art pieces including a mural in Lisbon, a bus that runs through her home town, and a massive polka-dotted pumpkin sculpture.  She has collaborated with fashion designers as well.yayoipumpkin

In talking about her fascination with polka-dots, Kusama said, “A polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm.  Round, soft, colorful, senseless, and unknowing…Polka-dots are a way to infinity.”  So, the next time you put on that retro polka-dotted dress or wash your polka-dotted Crate and Barrel plates, know that you are a little closer to the infinite energy of the universe.  Thanks, Yayoi Kusama!